Disney Announces New Discount for Select Dates This Late Summer and Early Fall

This past week, Disney announced a new discount for mid-August to late September. While it doesn’t really discount the rooms, tickets, or dining plan, it does include the Memory Maker for free ($149 value).  Memory Maker is the new version of what was once known as PhotoPass. It’s a convenient way to have Disney photographers take your photos while you are in the parks. When you get home, you can edit the photos and download them for free.
While there will probably be better deals announced for this time period, this is a good freebie to add at this point if you are already traveling during this window. Contact us or Request a Quote to let us help you find the right vacation package for you.
Here are the details from the Disney website:
Get free Memory Maker when you purchase this room and theme park ticket package!For just $899, purchase a 3-night, 2-day package for a family of 3 (2 adults, one child ages 3 to 9) that includes 2-day Magic Your Way theme park tickets and 3 nights in a standard room at a select Disney’s All-Star Resort—valid for stays most nights August 15 through September 30, 2014. Plus, you’ll receivefree Memory Maker—a photo package that makes it easy for you to capture magical family moments and first-time experiences at Walt Disney World Resort.

Take advantage of this offer and enjoy a getaway that’s just the right size for your family! Sample Rates 

View sample rates for stays most nights during the travel dates that are eligible for this offer:

  • April 27 through May 29, 2014: $949
  • May 30 through June 15, 2014: $1,019
  • August 15 through September 30, 2014: $899

Sample package prices are based on 3 nights in a standard room at a Disney All-Star Resort and 2-day theme park tickets for a family of 3 (2 adults, one child ages 3 to 9).

Rates may vary based on Disney Resort hotel, room type and party size. View complete list of Disney Resort hotels included in this offer.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Tickets are valid for one theme park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use.

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The Coldest Places in Walt Disney World

It’s 7 outside right now.  Not 7:00 AM, not 70. 7 degrees. And on the ground, there is a foot of snow, which refuses to leave. This may be Disney’s most intricate marketing plan ever: somehow they’ve learned to control the weather in order to keep their main Oscar contender, Frozen, in the forefront of everyone’s minds.  I have no problem believing that snow and ice will be on the ground straight through the movie’s Blu-ray release at the end of February.

There was one thing that happened this week that warmed me up, though. We booked our summer visit to Disney World.  Disney World in the summer; it’s a bittersweet experience. On one hand, as teachers, my wife and I don’t have to deal with the angst of requesting vacation or personal time, taking the kids out of school, or fitting the trip into a specified week. On the other hand, it’s crowded and hot. Really, really hot. Eating-a-Dole-Whip-in-the-fiery-halls-of-Hades hot. Luckily, we’ve been to Disney enough to know where the best places in each park are to avoid being oven-roasted.

Magic Kingdom
As great as the attraction is, has there ever been a person who has visited The Hall of Presidents in the summer and not fallen asleep? It’s dark, the audio and visuals are relatively soothing and, most importantly, it’s cold. Not cool, not refreshing. Cold. I’m pretty sure they store the Mickey Bars in the back in the auditorium. Don’t get me wrong, Carousel of Progress is pretty cold, too.  So is Mickey’s Philharmagic. But The Hall of Presidents is cold enough to be considered a suitable candidate for an overlay featuring Anna and Elsa.

Epcot
Well, the first place that came to mind was the cold weather testing room at Test Track. While it is cold in there, you’re not really in there long enough to enjoy it.  Sometimes, it almost makes me angry. The good news is, as soon as I get off Test Track, I can head right to Epcot’s true cold-weather utopia: Club Cool.  Let’s see what Club Cool, Coke’s sampling station and company store, has going for it: it’s freezing, there is never a line, and you get free samples of soda, some of which have cult-like followings. Would anyone like a Beverly?

Animal Kingdom
(Author’s note: I usually list the theme parks, like most do,  in order based on the year they opened, meaning Animal Kingdom would be last; however, last year Animal Kingdom’s attendance finally surpassed Hollywood Studio’s. So, consider this change-in-order my version of a protest: Disney, fix Hollywood Studios! OK, who needs the soapbox next?…)
This one is tough. Animal Kingdom holds onto heat so much, you could be working in the kitchen of the Yak and Yeti and it would be more refreshing than standing in Harambe watching the afternoon parade.  Then it dawned on me: Finding Nemo – The Musical.  Maybe it’s the fact that you are sitting for 45 minutes (a la Hall of Presidents), maybe it’s the time of day I usually attend the show (late afternoon, after a full day of being barbecued). Whatever the reason, the Theater in the Wild (Nemo’s home) takes its place as the coddest, er-coldest, spot in the Animal Kingdom (#dadjoke).

Hollywood Studios
My first instinct was The American Idol Experience, but I’m not even sure if that will still exist by the time you read this.  Honestly, the coldest spot for me always seems to bee the Sci-fi Dine-in Theater.  It’s dark, it’s cold, there’s a video playing.  I’m sort of surprised more people don’t curl up on one of the car seats and take an afternoon nap. The food may not be the best in the World, but the experience is fun and the temperature can’t be beat.

This list is, of course, subjective.  A lot of these places may only seem like the coldest on property because of my own circumstances at the time of me visiting.  If you’re looking for a place to cool off, though, you won’t go wrong stopping in any of these attractions or restaurants.  Oh, and please try to forget you read this article when I re-run it a couple of weeks from now under the title “The Best Places to Nap in Disney World.”  Thanks!

One last author’s note: All kidding aside, staying cool in the parks is a legitimate concern when you are visiting during the year’s hottest months. Click here to check out our article on ways to stay cool and safe when you visit.  Thanks for reading, and contact us if you’d like some FREE help in planning your 2014 Disney vacation.

Disney World Spring 2014 Discounts

Disney just released a new discount that is valid for a good chunk of this spring. Check out the details below, then check out our homepage or request a quote to find out how we can help you book your last-minute Disney vacation!

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Walt Disney World Spring 2014 Room-Only Discount

The discount is considered room-only and the bulk of the discount will be on the room portion of any stay that you book; however, there is also a ticket discount that can be combined to make this a vacation package.

The dates for the discount are 2/24/14 – 3/5/14, 3/14/14 – 4/12/14 and 4/20/14 – 6/15/14.

The room discounts are:

Value resorts: 20 % (except All-Star Movies: 5%, Art of Animation Suites: 15%, and Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms: excluded)

Moderate resorts: 25% (except Port Orleans French Quarter: 5%, Coronado Springs: 5%, and campsite: excluded)

Deluxe resorts: 30% (except suites: 5%, Animal Kingdom Lodge Club Level or Savanna View: 20%, Contemporary Resort: 20 %, Grand Floridian: 20%, and Wilderness Lodge Club Level and Courtyard View: 20%)

Villas:
30% (Boardwalk Villas, Old Key West Villas, and Saratoga Springs)
20% (Animal Kingdom Villas, Beach Club Villas, and Villas at Wilderness Lodge)
5% (Bay Lake Tower)
(excludes Villas at Grand Floridian and 3-bedroom villas)

If you add a ticket  (of at least 4 days), you will get one more day free, making your reservation a vacation package (room plus tickets).

Here is a link to an article with general information about Disney World discounts.

As much of the country deals with record low temperatures, doesn’t a vacation to balmy Florida sound like a good idea? Let us know how DW Dads can help you make it happen!

DW Dads Best of 2013: My Disney Bucket List

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article comes from October 29th and it covers what every Disney fan can admit he has: a Disney Bucket List!

This coming weekend (November 1-3) is the first weekend in an often-mentioned, but rarely understood week at Walt Disney World: Jersey Week.

Every year, New Jersey teachers have a conference in early November that takes place during a Thursday and Friday. This offers the families of New Jersey school students a mini-vacation that’s not during a holiday; it’s a perfect time to visit Disney World! Over the years, however, Jersey Week has developed a reputation for being a busier-than-average week to visit the parks.  While it is probably an exaggeration to think that New Jersey visitors alone could effect park crowds all that much, there may be some other contributing factors to this being an out-of-the-ordinary week to visit.  That’s why Jersey Week isn’t a week that I fear going; contrarily, it is item number one on my Disney Bucket List.

Disney Bucket Lists. All Disney fans have them; many contain similar items. Most rely on repeated and frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland (and, more than likely, other parts of the world). Some items probably rely on more than a sprinkling of pixie dust. Regardless of its contents, a Disney Bucket List offers the regular Disney visitor a focused set of vacation-oriented goals; how many other travel destinations can claim that??

My list includes:

Visit during the first week of November

This year’s Jersey Week happens to fall during the first week of November (it usually does, but doesn’t have to).  But it’s not the “Jersey Week” part of this week that lands it on my list; it is the FIVE Disney special events that take place in a 10-day span!  This is the perfect storm of Disney events. If timed properly, a visitor during the first week of November can accomplish all of the following:

  • Visit the last Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (This year it is taking place on Friday, November 1)
  • Visit the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (November 8)
  • Experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (runs until November 11)
  • Visit the Festival of the Masters, an outdoor arts festival at Downtown Disney (November 8-10)
  • Run in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (November 9)

Whew. For most of us, going this week would help us cross off several of our Bucket List items in one visit!

Four Parks, One Day

There are many online reports from others who attempted this unofficial Disney World game: visit all four parks in one day, making sure to complete a set number of tasks at each park.  These tasks usually include a certain number of attractions and meals.  This seems like a difficult task for those of us with young kids, or those of us who are only in the parks for a regular vacation and would prefer to not spend one of our days running around like a madman.  My hope is that the right trip will come along, and I’ll be able to finally try my hand at this Disney Fanatic’s ritual.

Stay at every Disney World resort/Visit every Disney Park in the World/Go on every type of Disney vacation (cruise, Adventures by Disney, Aulani)

These items are all pretty similar and basically require two things: time and money.  For a while, we weren’t really considering a bucket list when it came time to book the next Disney vacation; we would stay at a resort that fit our budget and that we were familiar and happy with (usually Pop Century); but things have changed.  We have several Disney vacations in mind for the next few years, and if all goes as planned, we’ll be able cross a couple of new resorts off our list.

Club 33/Cinderella Castle Suite/Walt’s Apartment

These are all items that require a little (or a whole bunch) of pixie dust.  Club 33 is an exclusive, members-only restaurant that is in Disneyland.  This one is manageable, since you can get a reservation if you know a member who is willing to help you out,  Walt’s Apartment is located above the Fire Station in Disneyland, and it is actually included in some tours, so this one is also attainable.  The Castle Suite is the ultimate bucket list item.  As of now, Disney claims there is no way for a regular guest to stay in the suite (although, like most things, money talks).  I probably won’t spend a lot of time thinking about this one, but it still deserves a spot on the list.

Be the Mayor of Main Street

OK, world wide web, it’s confession time.

When I retire, I would like to move to Orlando and be the Mayor of Main Street. This is a streetmosphere character who walks around Main Street and greets park guests, shaking hands and taking pictures.  To me, it sounds like the perfect way to spend your golden years.

Photo0357

{sigh}

If there’s one thing a Disney fan can do, it’s dream.

So, what’s on your Disney Bucket List?

DW Dads Best of 2013: Disney World Discounts

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article comes from August 7 and it gives an overview of how Disney World offers their discounts. Enjoy!

Going on any vacation, especially a Disney vacation, is a major investment, both of time and money.  If there is a way to save money on our Disney vacation, we will all happily take advantage of it.  There are times, however, when Disney runs multiple discounts or discounts that are not available to everyone at the same time.  How do you know when or how to get the best deal?  Here are some basics on how Disney offers discounts and how you can take advantage of them.

First, we should define a few terms:
Vacation Package is when you combine a stay at a Disney World resort hotel with tickets to get into the theme parks.  Packages can also include the Disney Dining Plan, but they do not have to.  The tickets in your package can also include optional upgrades, such as the ability to hop from park to park.
Room Only reservation is just what it sounds like: a reservation for a room at one of the Disney World resort hotels.  Tickets can then be added to this, thereby essentially making it a Vacation Package; but, it is important to note that this type of reservation started as Room Only.

Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.
Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.

Types of Discounts

Disney likes to offer two main types of discounts: Free Dining and Percentage-Off Room Only

Free Dining: This discount would add one of the Disney Dining Plans to your reservation for free if you book a Vacation Package at the rack rate.  The level of the Dining Plan depends on the level of resort you book.
% Off Room Only: This is a certain percentage off the Room Rate.  The percentage tends to go up as the level of hotel goes up.  As mentioned above, you can then add tickets and dining, usually at full price.

There have been other discounts, of course.  Kids Stay and Play Free basically gives your kids free park tickets.  In the past, there have been gift cards given out or free nights added, but these are a lot less common today.

Who Gets Discounts?
General Public
: Many of the discounts are available to the general public; however, there are a few groups that sometimes get to take advantage of them first:
Disney Visa Cardholders: Sometimes get to book with a discount a few days earlier than the general public.
Annual Passholders: They also get to book a few days early.  AP holders also get many discounts offered to them exclusively throughout the year, including special room rates.
Florida Residents: If you live in Florida, you can often get special room rates.
Pin Code Recipients: Many times, Disney sends out personalized postcards or e-mails that include a unique code.  This code allows the recipient to take advantage of an unpublished discount (free dining, room only, etc.).  Who gets these codes and why? That is a mystery only Disney knows the answer to!

This year's Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall's discounts.
This year’s Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall’s discounts.

What You Need To Know
1. You can only take advantage of one discount at a time; no double dipping!
2. Most discounts require you to pay for some of your vacation at rack rate.  Often, two discounts are offered at the same time, so do the math to see which is the better deal for you.
3. There are only a certain number of rooms at each resort earmarked for each discount.  So, the discounted rooms will sell out before the actual resort runs out of rooms.
4. If you book a vacation at rack rate, then a discount comes out, you can call and have them apply the discount to your reservation, as long as your room type is still available under the discount.
5. If the room you want is sold out under a discount, keep calling back.  It may become available as others change their vacation plans.
6. Let a Disney Vacation Specialist do the work for you! DW Dads are Disney Vacation Specialists. At no cost to you, we will find you the best discount available for your family.  If one is not currently available, we will keep in constant contact with Disney to apply a discount to your reservation as soon as it is released.  Let us crunch the numbers and make the phone calls; you can just focus on making great vacation memories! Click here to request a quote.

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DW Dads Best of 2013: The Importance of Rope Drop

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article is from September 10, 2013 and it discusses the value of getting to the parks at opening time.  Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, I claimed to offer you the most important packing tip you’ll ever hear.  While that may be true, that tip will probably not have the kind of overall effect on your vacation like today’s tip will.  Today’s tip, though, is not without its detractors.

Rope Drop is Disney-speak for the opening of a park (for most parks, that is 9:00 AM, but it may vary by day and park).  It refers to the act of “dropping the rope” that holds back the morning crowd, something that only sort of happens anymore.

Getting to a Disney Park in time for Rope Drop can seriously increase the amount of time you spend riding and can eliminate some major standing-in-line time. The problem may be that you need to be willing to do something many people just refuse to do when they are on vacation: set your alarm.

First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!
First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!

Here is one example of what you would need to do to get to the park in time for Rope Drop. Of course, depending on where you are staying and how you are getting to the park, your experience may differ slightly.

1. Set your alarm for 6:30.
2. Shower and dress and be out of your room by 7:00.
3. Breakfast at the resort and out to the bus (or other mode of transportation) by 7:30.
4. Arrive to the park entrance by about 8:15.

This can be, admittedly, a lot of work. It can be particularly hard to pull off if you stayed out late the night before or if you have a big family all trying to get out the door by 7ish. If you can do it, however, you will be rewarded. Here are some of the advantages of Rope Drop:

1. Various Opening Shows

The Magic Kingdom has a Welcome Show that everyone should make an effort to see at least once. It takes place on top of the train station and starts about 15 minutes before park opening.  I don’t want to spoil the details, but I will say it is a perfect way to start a Disney day.  Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom also have small opening ceremonies, but none are worth getting out of bed for.  They are not, however, the most important reason to make it to Rope Drop. That would be…

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
Magic Kingdom Welcome Show

2. Low Crowds

You know how you are sitting there thinking, “OK, but I don’t want to wake up early on vacation.” Well, most people actually on vacation think that too.  So, while they’re sleeping in, those of us who got up early are riding the most popular rides with a fraction of the crowd that will show up by lunchtime.  Don’t get me wrong, the crowd isn’t non-existent, but it really is nothing compared to how crowded it may get later in the day.  Our family has had no problem knocking out every ride in Fantasyland within the first hour in July. To put that into perspective: There is a high likelihood that later in the day, one of those rides (Peter Pan’s Flight) will have a wait of almost an hour by itself.  This same thing can be said for all of the parks.

3. Get the FastPasses you want…for now

While the current FastPass system is still in place, Rope Drop is the only time to get some of the most popular passes.  Toy Story Mania, in Hollywood Studios, can run out of FastPasses by late morning. Get there at Rope Drop, and you’ll be riding with Buzz and Woody by the time the sleepyheads are pulling into the parking lot. The same thing can be said for Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure.

My suggestion is to try it once and see if it is worth it for your family.  Don’t try to get to the park for Rope Drop everyday; there is a good chance you’ll be miserable after a few days of answering the alarm during your vacation.  Then again, it may be a small price to pay to avoid the lines that’ll appear later in the day.

12 Months of Christmas in Disney World

So, your friend just came back from Disney World and told you how it was the most magical place to be in the whole world for Christmas.  You’d like to jump on a plane and be there right now to bask in the balmy holiday season of sunny Florida, but you just can’t make vacation plans in the fall and winter.  Is there any way to visit Disney when it’s convenient for you, but still enjoy Christmas while you are there? You bet!

Most Disney fans know that visiting the parks at Christmastime can be one of the most festive and enjoyable vacations that your family can take.  What happens if you can’t visit during the holidays, but you still want to feel some holiday cheer while you are in the World?  Well, as usual, Disney has you covered, with Christmas-themed experiences that span three of the four parks and a few spots outside of the parks.

The most obvious place to go to feel the Christmas Spirit all year round is one of the four Christmas shops that populate Disney World.  Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe is located in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, and while it isn’t the biggest Christmas shop on property, it does weave itself into the story of its host land better than any of the others.  The Shoppe is actually three separate late 18th century locations that have been combined; they are the home of a music instructor (Ichabod Crane), a woodcarver’s shop (the Woodwrights) and the home of German folk artists (the Kepples – a nod to Walt Disney, whose grandfather’s first name was Kepple).  The exterior still maintains the appearance of three separate facades; the stores are connected inside, but have each maintained their respective personalities.  This is not only a great place to shop for Christmas souvenirs, but Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe also really helps to tell the story of Liberty Square.

There are two other Christmas shops within the parks that help to tell the stories of their locations.  The first is housed in the Germany Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase: die Weihnachtsecke. This shop offers many Christmas items, specializing in those that exhibit German craftsmanship.  This is also a perfect place to get a pickle ornament, a German Christmas tradition.  The other in-park shop is It’s a Wonderful Shop, located in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios.  Like many spots in this section of the park, it is dressed to appear as though it is being used to film a Christmas movie: decorations are visible, but props and “off-camera” areas are left untouched.  These two are small shops, but offer nice, quick doses of holiday cheer.

They’re sweating from making snow angels. In Florida. In July.

The biggest Christmas Shop on property is located in Downtown Disney and anchors the Marketplace: Disney’s Days of Christmas.  This massive shop houses everything you can think of to hang on a tree, place on a mantle or top an antennae. While the other shops offer better theming, this is definitely the place to go if you are looking for the widest selection. There is also personalization offered on most items. (Tip: Get off the bus at the Marketplace end of Downtown Disney and make this one of your first stops.  By the time you are done walking the other shops and are returning to your bus, your personalized items will be ready!)

There are a few other locations to get your year-round Christmas fix during your Disney World vacation.  The first is Winter Summerland Miniature Golf, which tells the story of a holiday-themed vacation spot for Santa’s off-duty elves.  It’s a little off the beaten path, but Christmas fanatics won’t want to miss it.  Two attractions also offer some allusions to Christmas.  Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress features four scenes, each set in a different time of year.  The final scene, which reeks of the ‘80s, is set during Christmas in the home of the story’s family.  A much more subtle reference is made in the final scene of Soarin’, which features a flyover of Anaheim’s Disneyland during Christmastime, made most clear by the Clark Griswold-inspired lighting of it’s a small world in the upper right-corner of the park.

So, don’t be a Grinch if you can’t make it to Florida during the actual Christmas season.  Take advantage of these experiences to keep a Disney-themed Christmas with you all through the year!